Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Now for something different

The most popular class of vehicle on sale in South Africa is without a doubt a bakkie. And when most people think bakkie, they think of the “holy” trinity: Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger. These are normally people’s first choices when buying a double-cab bakkie. However, there is a perception that these top players tend to be slightly over-priced. So, for those on a tighter budget, there are some great alternatives, such as the Mitsubishi Triton. Anton Willemse Jnr put it through its paces.

When I was growing up, my grandfather bought his first off-roader to go overlanding in. After sampling several products, from Land Rovers to Land Cruisers, he finally settled on something a bit unconventional, a Mitsubishi Pajero. He continued to use Pajero models throughout his overlanding “career” and never had any setbacks with them. His experiences with Mitsubishis made me realise that the brand is a true underdog when it comes to overlanding. And who doesn’t love an underdog? Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting my hands on one of my favourite bakkies on the market, the Mitsubishi Triton.

Exterior design

The Triton has admittedly never been the prettiest bakkie on the market, especially compared to the likes of the Hilux and Ranger. Its styling has been divisive. Those who liked it, absolutely loved it and those who didn’t like it were very outspoken about it. However, the current generation of the Triton, which hit our shores in 2019, certainly put an end to all the snide remarks. I mean – what’s not to like? Personally, I think it‘s a beautiful bakkie!

In recent years, Mitsubishi’s design language and philosophy have focused on robust toughness and strength that exude confidence and generosity. That’s according to official literature and I feel the Triton is the perfect embodiment of this. It looks menacing when cruising about town or in the bush, and its bold and prominent front end reminds me of a bare-chested bodybuilder. The Triton is a bit smaller than the Ranger and the Hilux, but the squared and aggressive lines of the side profile create the illusion of a larger stature.

This good styling and design also give the Triton some decent off-road chops. It has an approach angle of 31 degrees, a departure angle of 29 degrees, and a breakover of 25 degrees. It also has a lateral travel angle of 45 degrees.

Interior styling

The interior is a good blend of function and style and not a major departure from previous models. While some might say it’s starting to show its age, I did not find it too outdated.

I sampled the double-cab GL 4×2, which acts as the entry-level for the double cab line-up of the Triton. Admittedly, the interior isn’t top-notch, but you still get a few niceties at the price. I never felt like I was travelling in a shed and overall, the cabin is a pleasant place to be. There’s actually some decent tech, especially compared to other commercial offerings such as the Hilux Raider 2.4 and the Ranger XLT 2.2. Keyless entry, central locking, an immobiliser and electric windows are all standard, as are automatic air-conditioning, and a touchscreen radio/CD player. A touchscreen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is available as an optional extra.

Performance

Under the hood, you have the tried and tested 2.4L DOHC MIVEC engine, paired with Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select II 4WD system. The power unit has a very substantial peak power output of 133kW at 3 500rpm and a torque output of 430Nm at 2 500rpm. My experience of the Triton engine was that, at times, it felt a bit agricultural and not as refined as some of the competition. It did take some effort to get it up and going. As for the fuel consumption, it was as I expected: around 9.1 litres/100km in town, dropping down to the mid-to-high 8 litres/100km on the open road. The GL 4×2 comes standard with a limited-slip differential, a 75-litre fuel tank and 245/70 R16 alloy wheels. The Triton also has a towing capacity of 3 100kg/2 790kg (braked).

Safety

The Triton boasts a decent splattering of safety features such as Mitsubishi’s RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction, which protects occupants in the event of a collision while also bolstering pedestrian safety. Seven airbags and side-impact protection beams, as well as ISOFIX child seat anchors add extra peace of mind. The Triton also has some decent passive safety features such as active stability and traction control (ASTC), anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), a brake-assist system (BAS) and hill-start assist (HAS).

Verdict

The Mitsubishi Triton is an often-overlooked option when shopping for a double cab. The competition is fierce, and customers are mostly set in their ways and extremely brand loyal. However, if you’re in the market for a relatively affordable bakkie, but you still want something proven, capable and reliable, go for the Triton because it won’t let you down. It may be the more unconventional choice, but it might be the correct one.

Model & Pricing

  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC M/T GL 4×2: R479 995
  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×2: R594 995
  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×2: R614 995
  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×4: R654 995
  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4: R674 995
  • Triton 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4 Xtreme: R734 995

*The entire commercial vehicle line-up – including the Triton Double Cab GL – is covered by a 3-year/100 000km manufacturer‘s warranty as standard, along with a 5-year/90 000km service plan. A 5-year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance is also included, and service intervals are set at every 10 000km.

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